38 Overview of Verb Forms

Learning Objectives

  • Use the correct regular verb forms in basic sentences.
  • Use the correct irregular verb forms in basic sentences.
  • Use the correct gerund or infinitive form in sentences.

Regular Verb Forms

Verbs in English can change forms in five basic ways:

BASE

PAST

PAST

PARTICIPLE

3rd PERSON

SINGULAR

PROGRESSIVE

TALK

TALKED

TALKED

TALKS

TALKING

JUMP

JUMPED

JUMPED

JUMPS

JUMPING

Verbs also can indicate actions or states of being in the past, present, or future using tenses. Regular verbs follow regular patterns when shifting from the present to past tense. For example, to form a past-tense or past-participle verb form, add -ed or -d to the end of a verb. You can avoid mistakes by understanding this basic pattern.

Verb tense identifies the time of action described in a sentence. Verbs take different forms to indicate different tenses. Verb tenses indicate

  • an action or state of being in the present,
  • an action or state of being in the past,
  • an action or state of being in the future.

Helping verbs, such as be and have, also work to create verb tenses, such as the future tense.

Present tense: Tim walks to the store. (singular subject)

Present tense: Sure and Kimmy walk to the store. (plural subject)

Past tense: Yesterday, they walked to the store for milk. (plural subject)

Future tense: Tomorrow, Kimmy will walk to the store to buy some bread. (singular subject)

Irregular Verb Forms

The past tense of irregular verbs is not formed using the patterns that regular verbs follow. Study the chart below which lists the most common irregular verbs.

The best way to learn irregular verbs is to memorize them. With the help of a classmate, create flashcards of irregular verbs and test yourselves until you master them.

Table of Irregular Verbs

Simple Present

Past

Simple Present

Past

be

was, were

lose

lost

become

became

make

made

begin

began

mean

meant

blow

blew

meet

met

break

broke

pay

paid

bring

brought

put

put

build

built

quit

quit

burst

burst

read

read

Simple Present

Past

Simple Present

Past

buy

bought

ride

rode

catch

caught

ring

rang

choose

chose

rise

rose

come

came

run

ran

cut

cut

say

said

dive

dove (dived)

see

saw

do

did

seek

sought

draw

drew

sell

sold

drink

drank

send

sent

drive

drove

set

set

eat

ate

shake

shook

fall

fell

shine

shone (shined)

feed

fed

shrink

shrank (shrunk)

feel

felt

sing

sang

fight

fought

sit

sat

find

found

sleep

slept

fly

flew

speak

spoke

forget

forgot

spend

spent

forgive

forgave

spring

sprang

freeze

froze

stand

stood

get

got

steal

stole

give

gave

strike

struck

go

went

swim

swam

grow

grew

swing

swung

Simple Present

Past

Simple Present

Past

have

had

take

took

hear

heard

teach

taught

hide

hid

tear

tore

hold

held

tell

told

hurt

hurt

think

thought

keep

kept

throw

threw

know

knew

understand

understood

lay

laid

wake

woke

lead

led

wear

wore

leave

left

win

won

let

let

wind

wound

Here we see the irregular verb in the past tense.

Present tense: Lauren keeps all her letters.

Past tense: Lauren kept all her letters.

Future tense: Lauren will keep all her letters.

Exercise 1

Gerunds

A gerund is a form of a verb that is used as a noun. All gerunds end in -ing. Since gerunds function as nouns, they occupy places in a sentence that a noun would, such as the subject, direct object, and object of a preposition.

You can use a gerund in the following ways:

As a subject

Traveling is Cynthia’s favourite pastime.

As a direct object

I enjoy jogging.

As an object of a proposition

The librarian scolded me for laughing.

Often verbs are followed by gerunds. Study for examples.

Table of Gerunds and Verbs

Gerund

Verb Followed by a Gerund

moving

Delilah considered moving to Paris.

cleaning

I hate cleaning the bathroom.

winning

Longa imagines winning an Oscar one day.

worrying

Mom says she has stopped worrying.

taking

She admitted taking the pumpkin.

Infinitives

An infinitive is a form of a verb that comes after the word to and acts as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

to + verb = infinitive

Examples of infinitives include the following: to move, to sleep, to look, to throw, to read, and to sneeze.

Often verbs are followed by infinitives.

Table of Infinitives and Verbs

Infinitive

Verb Followed by Infinitive

to help

Preeti offered to help her move.

to arrive

Sonia expects to arrive early.

to win

Sunita wants to win the writing contest.

to close

He forgot to close the curtains.

to eat

She likes to eat late.

You may wonder which verbs can be followed by gerunds and which verbs can be followed by infinitives. With the following verbs, you can use either a gerund or an infinitive.

Table of Infinitives and Gerund Verbs

Base Form of Verb

Sentences with Verbs Followed by Gerunds and

Infinitives

begin

1. Juanita began crying.

2. Juanita began to cry.

hate

1. Marie hated talking on the phone.

2. Marie hated to talk on the phone.

forget

1. Wendell forgot paying the bills.

2. Wendell forgot to pay the bills.

like

1. I liked leaving messages.

2. I liked to leave messages.

continue

1. He continued listening to the news.

2. He continued to listen to the news.

start

1. I will start recycling immediately.

2. I will start to recycle immediately.

try

1. Mikhail will try climbing the tree.

2. Mikhail will try to climb the tree.

prefer

1. I prefer baking.

2. I prefer to bake.

love

1. Joshua loves diving.

2. Joshua loves to dive.

Exercise 2

On your own sheet of paper, complete the following sentences by choosing the correct infinitive or gerund.

  1. I meant (to kiss, kissing) my kids before they left for school.
  2. The children hoped (to go, going) to a restaurant for dinner.
  3. Do you intend (to eat, eating) the entire pie?
  4. Crystal postponed (to get dressed, getting dressed) for the party.
  5. When we finish (to play, playing) this game, we will go home.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular verbs follow regular patterns when shifting from present to past tense.
  • Irregular verbs do not follow regular, predictable patterns when shifting from present to past tense.
  • Forms of Irregular Verbs must be practiced and memorized.

Writing Application

Tell a family story. You likely have several family stories to choose from, but pick the one that you find most interesting to write about. Use as many details as you can in the telling. As you write and proofread, make sure your all your verbs are correct and the tenses are consistent.

License

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College ESL Writers: Mohawk College Edition by Barbara Hall and Elizabeth Wallace is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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